BT slows revenue decline on demand for superfast broadband

UK telecoms incumbent BT says it has slowed its sales decline on the back of rising demand for superfast broadband services.

The operator has reported revenues of £4.79 billion ($7.36 billion) for the fourth quarter of 2012, a fall of just 2% since the same period a year earlier.

The figure was boosted by a relatively strong performance at BT Retail amid continuing declines at the operator’s wholesale and IT divisions.

Even so, net profit slid by 6.3% to £591 million.

UK telecoms incumbent BT says it has slowed its sales decline on the back of rising demand for superfast broadband services.

The operator has reported revenues of £4.79 billion ($7.36 billion) for the fourth quarter of 2012, a fall of just 2% since the same period a year earlier.

The figure was boosted by a relatively strong performance at BT Retail amid continuing declines at the operator’s wholesale and IT divisions.

Even so, net profit slid by 6.3% to £591 million.

BT (London, UK) managed to reduce operating expenses by 4% through “cost efficiencies” but saw capital expenditure rise by 5% due to the rollout of its fiber broadband network.

Cheering investors, the operator increased dividends and said it would embark on a £600 million share buyback over the next two years.

“Our good performance this year is reflected in our dividend, which is up 14% for the year,” said Ian Livingston, the chief executive of BT. “We have a lot more to do but we are now a lot better positioned to do it.”

Livingston said the operator’s fiber network now reaches more than 15 million homes and businesses across the UK, an increase of about 6.2 million over the course of the year, and is used by 1.5 million customers, up by 873,000 in the last 12 months.

With many fiber customers upgrading from older copper-based services, net broadband additions numbered 834,000 for the year, giving the operator 17.6 million broadband customers overall (including through resellers).

BT is counting on its new sports proposition to fuel continued interest in high-speed broadband services.

Set to launch in August, the new BT Sport service will be free to BT broadband customers and cost £12 a month for customers of other broadband providers.

The company is hoping to attract interest at the expense of BSkyB (London, UK), the dominant force in the UK’s pay TV market.

Issuing its forecast for the financial year ending March 2014, BT said it expected earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortization to come in at between £6 billion and £6.1 billion, compared with a figure of £6.14 billion for the financial year just ended.